Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice (1 June1762 – 29 August1844), was a Roman Catholic missionary and an educationalist. Edmund Rice was the founder of two orders of religious brothers: the Congregation of Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers.
Rice was born in Ireland at a time when Catholics was oppressed under Penal Laws enforced by the British authorities.
In 1786, Edmund married Mary Elliot, the daughter to a prosperous Waterfordbusinessman. After three short years of marriage, Mary suffered a tragic accident, gave birth to a handicapped daughter and died shortly after. Edmund was devastated and the tragedy changed his course radically. He turned to his special vocation, which was to provide dignity for the poor, especially through education. He sold off his business interests and devoted himself to training teachers who would dedicate their lives to prayers and to teaching the children free of charge.
Despite the difficulties involved, Edmund's classes were so popular that another temporary school had to be set up on another of his properties and he also used more of his funds to put up a larger building in the city's working-class district. In 1802 Edmund was joined by two companions, Thomas Grosvener and Patrick Finn, and the three began to live a form of community life in rooms over the Stable School inNew Street. The men shared his vision where they combined a semi-monastic life with the hard work of teaching boys under primitive conditions.
All of Edmund's educational activities were unlawful in the eyes of the 'authorities' in Ireland. Most Irish Catholics were effectively cut off from education and consequently cut off from social and political progress. By founding schools and teaching congregations, Edmund Rice was a liberator.
Edmund died on the 29th August, 1844. His vision continues to live on by his successors in the Edmund Rice Family.
On October 6, 1996, Pope John Paul II beatified - declared 'Blessed' - Edmund Rice, the founder of the Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers.
Till today, Christian Brother and Presentation Brother Schools around the world continue to follow the system of education and traditions established by Edmund Rice.